It’s Still About Opportunities to See

Gone are the days of malls, mom and pop stores, and various other brick and mortar outlets. They have been replaced by online merchants, specialty “long-tail sites like Etsy,” demand channels such as eBay, and social sales through Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram among others.

 

When the distribution point of your product changes, it is imperative that your marketing strategies change with it. Why? New distribution points suggest you are dealing with consumers who have adopted new purchasing behaviors or, perhaps even more challenging. You need to re-train existing customers on these new digital protocols without losing their business. A great example lies in the fact that online buyers can’t physically touch the merchandise before they buy it. For some, who have grown up in the “online” world. This isn’t an issue. However, for department stores such as JCPenney’s and Macy’s with a funnel full of brick and mortar customers used to handling the merchandise. This is a problem that must be addressed.

 

The savvy marketers at Zappos quickly found the solution to this problem with their free returns and exchanges policies. Today, major retailers (including the aforementioned) have followed suit and now offer free returns. Some go so far as to streamline the process by providing return labels inside their packages and expedited reimbursement paths through the customer’s account section of their site. While John Q buyer still can’t touch the product before he makes his purchase, these policies reduce the perceived risk of their pre-purchase rituals and help close the gap between the brick and mortar and online worlds.

 

This is just the tip of the iceberg in regards to the changes the new “online” marketing landscape has forced on firms large and small. Customer reviews have become imperative for a company’s success as well as PCI compliant websites, PayPal payment channels, mobile-friendly landing pages, and social listening and engagement by the brand.

 

However, one core marketing element remains unchanged.

 

Opportunities to See still dominates the marketer’s playbook. Ultimately, the adperson’s primary goal still boils down to getting the brand name in front of as many relevant consumers as possible, so you can get them into the sales funnel where they will start the buying process.

 

I will argue that it is even more important now than ever.

 

In the past world of brick and mortar selling, competition was somewhat limited by physical location. E.g. you had to have a store or place for your customers to go to compete. Today,  many barriers to entry like this have been torn down like the Berlin Wall. It no longer matters where you are located or how much intellectual and financial capital you have. If you have the will and an internet connection. You can compete. Last year, popular online commerce platform Shopify announced the company supported over 375,000 merchants alone by the end of 2016.  That’s just one “out of the box” provider that caters to the “limited entrepreneur.” Add in other services such as Volusion, Magento, Bigcommerce, Wix, WordPress, and proprietary sites and it is very likely your business (no matter how niche it may be) is competing with a plethora of other brands across the web for the same customer’s attention. However, it get’s even more difficult. Since it takes the average online patron numerous views across multiple channels before they click “buy now.” Getting your message in front of those customers as many times as possible becomes a key ingredient to your success.

 

Yes, the distribution channel has changed and, yes, marketing strategies have changed with it. However, don’t let modern agencies scare you with new terms such as bounce rate, page views, click-through rate (CTR), cost per thousand (CPM). It all boils down to one basic fundamental that hasn’t changed in marketing strategy.

 

Opportunities to See.

 

 

 

The Simpsons-Curating Strategy Genius of FX

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT!

If you have cable, you can use the FXNow App and watch every single Simpsons episode right now.

 

What could be better?

 

There is a “random” button you can hit.

 

This is the future!

*****

No, I am serious about this. FX is doing something unique with TV. They are altering the viewing behavior. So, while other services invest billions in product procurement. FX is using a different strategy. They have licensed a well known and powerful brand with 618 episodes over 28 seasons.

 

That is a LOT of content.

 

There is a HUGE chance that, unless you are the most adamant Simpsons fan, you have missed a few episodes…maybe even a few seasons.  The result – hit that random button. If that wasn’t enough, they have numerous Playlists including every Treehouse of Horror, Classic Ralph Moments, Valentine and Christmas episodes among others.

 

Sure, this takes a lot of curating and back-end work to support. However, and I am not offering ANY proof. These costs must be less than developing just one new season of Game of Thrones.  And they are only doing eight of those.

 

Kudos FX Networks for using a curating strategy to sneak in a competitive edge in a very tough market. Kudos.

 

 

Underpromise….Overdeliver.

Forecasting a prospective market can be quite tough. Especially if you are a small business that lacks the resources to acquire and use costly third-party database results and analytical software. In some niche markets, data can be even harder to uncover even with these resources at your disposal.  For instance, I focus on the drum industry and even though there are a “crap ton of drummer’s out there” –words from an SEO consultant I worked with. It is tough to get empirical evidence on their behaviors. Luckily, I had developed my own forecasting model in grad school and was able to use that when working on my business plan for Spirit and Groove™.

My model follows a four-step process that creates a funnel from a 100% total market through a potential audience to the final stage of prospective buyers. The last step is a calculation I call the “gut metric” that allows me to adjust the data based on a “gut” feeling. Some would argue the use of this step, but I disagree for two reasons.

Number one, data is both qualitative and quantitative. Analytical software rarely includes the qualitative metrics. Algorithms are great, but there is a reason even Google and Facebook continue to seek out ways to model the “human” perspective. Number two, having run my own company, worked for firms of all sizes, and studied the business plans of countless publicly traded brands during my MBA studies, I have a refined understanding of what is actually possible when you have that empirical evidence in your hands and I am able to sift out marketing “pipe-dreams” from that data.

Perhaps the most important, my model aligns with the concept of “underpromise…overdeliver” – a theory I learned with one of the world’s top brands.

While working as a retail specialist and store mentor with Apple, I witnessed firsthand just how powerful this corporate mantra can be. Apple doesn’t simply include it in their employee manual and call it good. No, they drill it into the corporate-wide psyche. As a retail specialist, it is a concept you learn in your initial training before you are introduced to any of their coveted i-products. At Apple, you are taught to always tell the customer their iPhone would be fixed in 30 minutes, even if you are sure it will only take 10. This way, you are able to increase the consumer’s buy-in when you do deliver ahead of schedule, and that is just the tip of their underpromise…overdeliver iceberg.

If you follow the tech giant in the news, especially when earning’s statements come out. You will notice that (somehow) Job’s brainchild regularly outperforms their own corporate estimates. There is no doubt in my mind that part of this phenom lies in a brand-wide “underpromise/overdeliver” mentality.

Business owners and managers often “over-assume” their results will beat expectations. Managers see the glass as half full because their bonuses and growth-potential are directly related to those results. Owners usually adopt the same ideal, but for different reasons. They are emotionally attached to the brand, see things others may not have in their field of vision, and have much more on the line, which forces them to hope for better-than-expected results.

Neither of these are good ways to engage in business. Yes, overhyping serves a purpose in specific sections of the marketing mix. However, overhyping your forecasts with owners can be detrimental. Imagine what an investor would think if you told them you would hit 1,000,000 units sold in the first quarter of 2018, but you only hit half. Now imagine, that happens every quarter. Soon you will lose their confidence…then their support.  Now instead, flip the coin. You forecast that you plan to sell 500,000 units in the first quarter of 2018 and you end up selling just over 10% of those figures. To you, it may look like slight gains (maybe even losses, because through your rose colored glasses you were hoping for one-million). However, to that investor you now over-performed. If you continued this method for future quarters and witnessed similar results. Your investor’s confidence would grow exponentially and with that, your opportunity for explosive future growth would be solidified via their willingness to spend more on your ideas.

Remember, the underpromise/overdeliver concept is rooted in marketing and not finance. It is not designed to “cook the books” or to “sell a lemon.” Rather, it is a mantra that your entire team should adopt, so that it will become part of your overall corporate culture and brand. When properly instituted it impacts both sides of the ball. Your customers will constantly be “surprised” by your service while your investors will continue to experience a responsible and growing company worthy of continued investment.

 

 

Communicate Right or Get Lost in the Shuffle

 

I get a lot of emails every day. I mean – a FREEKIN’ LOT! However, my inbox doesn’t compare with some of the people I work with. Case in point, I was having lunch with a colleague for a major cruise brand and during our hour together, he received 35 emails, a bunch of texts, and a few calls.

 

It may be difficult to understand just how complex email management can become if you have never worked in an environment based on group decisions with partners in multiple time zones that require written communication to audit deals being made. This is exactly the case for booking agents, concert buyers, and entertainment managers. In our business, the cc (and sometimes bcc) are commonplace, which quickly converts one email into double digit chains plaguing our inboxes.

 

Of course, there are programs and protocols one can follow to better manage their inbox. However, each of these emails (or at the very least the subject) needs to be read and, if warranted, investigated and responded to.

 

So, why is this entertainment blogger discussing the woes of our email management. Well, the answer is to help artists looking for work to better communicate with us, so you don’t get lost in the shuffle.  Here are a few pieces of advice I want to give.

 

  1. Keep it simple.  Remember grade school and how they taught you to outline your paragraph in the first line by dictating the who, what, where, when, and why? Follow that rule. Don’t bury the story.  Provide us with your website and video links upfront along with what you are looking for and what your act brings to the table.  We don’t need to hear your life story. How you learned to play the guitar at six. How you met John Mayer that one time and he dug your tune. Let us know what you are going to do for us.
  2. Keep it to email if possible. Facebook, Instagram, and other social media channels are great, but they are not the best place to solicit a new client.  For one, if the company is huge like a cruise line. The person reading those messages probably has nothing to do with entertainment, so you are relying on them to forward your message to the right person. If the company is smaller, the person handling those messages is probably wearing 100 different hats and will likely look at your message and forget about it until they are managing the site again in the future. When you send an email, it at least ends up in the correct inbox…barring spam filter interference.
  3. Better than email… the website form. If the agency or venue has a form “specific for entertainment applicants” use that. They did this for a reason. For instance, the company I work for, Mike Moloney Entertainment, put a web application form that forwards all applicants to the email accounts of five agents.  I know for a fact that many larger cruise companies have their online forms set-up in a similar fashion.  In all instances, the forms are designed to capture the data we need to make a decision and (hopefully) a deal. Do yourself a favor and follow our lead.
  4. Don’t spam!
  5. Don’t spam! See what I did there?  This one is so important, I put it in twice.  NOBODY likes spam, so don’t be that person. Now, there are many ways you can spam a prospect through email. Sending the same message to every email address you can find within the intended agency. Including them on your mailing list without asking. Emailing them every day. Emailing, then messaging on all available social channels are all ways you become a spammer and it generally doesn’t work in your favor.
  6. Do some research on who you are emailing. Does the booking agent work in your genre of music? Are you applying to a cruise agency, but you get sea-sick? Is the booker outside of your drawing ability? It doesn’t hurt to do a little research to focus your pitch, and with so much information at your fingertips it is rather easy to be properly prepared.

As an agent, I can attest that most of us are always hungry to find the next great act for our venues. However, that is only a small percentage of our business. The largest chunk of our time is spent putting the deal together and then executing it on show day. A lot of artists feel that the “squeaky wheel will get the grease” and in some instances that is true.  However, if the driver can’t hear that squeak. Nobody will be getting to their destination. Follow these steps to increase the probability that we will hear you.

 

 

CwF + RtB in the Drumming Community

Spirit and Groove’s Instagram presence is being established as a community of drummers to share their beats, ideas, drum-pinions, and grooves.  Check out our recent promotion video.

 

 

We do this because: (1) we totally dig drummers and want to spend as much time as we can hanging out with people who are generally more happy than anyone else; (2) it is part of our marketing plan, which is founded on the Connect with Fans + Reason to Buy (CwF + RtB) model.

 

Nine Inch Nails frontman, Trent Reznor coined the term CwF + RtB during his post Napster career. Like those around him in the music industry, Reznor needed to find ways to create his own stream of revenue without the assistance of major label deal money that had disappeared with the collapse of physical music sales.

 

CwF + RtB is one of those methodologies that is so simple it is complex (or we make it so). Basically, you build a fan base and then give them reasons to buy into your brand.  The math totally makes sense.  If you have a loyal fan base of 10,000 fans and you get them to spend $100 per year on your brand. You earn $1,000,000 per year.

 

I would say $1,000,000 per year is a good chunk of change for any small business and one that is completely reachable if your foundation fanbase is world-wide and within a supportive niche. This is why we chose it for Spirit and Groove.

 

Plus it is a REALLY cool way to build a company.

 

I mean, we totally dig this. For the first years of our business we have to concentrate on connecting with, watching, listening, and learning from drummers.  For a drummer, what could be better?

 

So, if you play the drums or like to groove. Connect with @spiritandgroove on Instagram and tag us in your groovy videos. As of the publishing of this blog, we are within 200 followers of hitting 10K on our feed and when we do that, we will celebrate with deals and monthly contests where community involvement will be the key indicator of how many drum tees we give out and whom earns that drumming clothing.

 

 

 

 

Three Website Overhauls in Three Months

Jeremy Larochelle Recent Web Design Projects

 

For any of you who don’t know (or haven’t read my resume), I studied graphic design at a very young age and have been involved in the art-form through some amazing changes. When I started at the age of 18, computers (or should I say the MAC) was just being introduced to the medium.  While working as a photojournalist for a local paper, I started out by actually developing my own film, making prints, and pasting them up on the broad-sheet.  Soon, we moved to an AGFA 35mm scanner that cut out half of those steps and within two years. I was fully digital, sending the next day’s stories to press over this new thing called the World Wide Web.

 

Fast forward about twenty years and I have just finished revamping not one…not two, but three websites.  The first was my personal site, www.jeremylarochelle.com (hint: it’s where you are right now).  My focus was to tell my personal brand, which in itself can be a lengthy journey, and track my thoughts in a number of areas I am passionate about.

 

Jeremy Larochelle's Personal Branded Website

 

The second was a tandem-effort with a Google social media expert to revamp my employer’s, Mike Moloney Entertainment’s website www.mmec.com.  Our goal was to streamline our procurement funnel, focus on our strongest product offerings…entertainment for cruises and casinos, and to tell our brand story in a simple way.

 

MMEC Cruise and Casino Entertainment Solutions Website

 

Finally, I revamped my online drumming t-shirt brand, Spirit and Groove www.spiritandgroove.com.  I am working on a more in-depth post outlining this move, but let’s say. The goal of this overhaul was to tell our brand story and increase conversions from the vast amount of traffic we have developed thanks to our social procurement funnel.

 

Spirit and Groove Drum T Website

 

 

I am finding web design to be an exceptional way to tell a brand’s story, connect with consumers, and to fill any marketing funnel regardless of product type. During my years working in-print, it would have cost thousands of dollars and just as many hours of time to reach a fraction of the people we reach online and through social media. However, the really cool thing about web design is its organic nature.  Just like an old-school painter, I can throw down a brush stroke. Step back, take a look, and make adjustments. It let’s my creative mind constantly adapt to what is happening around me.

 

Let me know what you think about the revamp of these three brands and stay tuned for more updates!